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Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

Haaretz and Yediot Ahronot will apologize for slandering Hebron Jews and compensate them

Here's some good news surrounding a case I'd spoken about earlier, and that's still being worked on:
While three Hevron families struggled to remain in a duly-purchased building, some media were falsely claiming the purchase papers were forged. Two newspapers, so far, have apologized and will pay.

The incident occurred earlier this month, four weeks after three Jewish families of Hevron - some of whom had been thrown out of their home in the city's Jewish Quarter earlier this year - moved into a building named Beit Shapira in the holy city. The Arab sellers, suddenly claiming that the papers had been forged, demanded that the police remove the new occupants. The matter was taken to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the families must be removed pending an investigation into the matter.

Several Israeli media had their own version of the events. They reported that the Supreme Court had ruled against the Jews of Hevron and that the purchase papers were in fact forged. For this, they will now pay between 13,000 and 15,000 shekels each to the families, and will publish a public apology.

Long-time Hevron resident Orit Strook, a spokesperson for the Jewish community there, said that the false reports by two of Israel's largest newspapers, Yediot Acharonot and Haaretz, "denied what the Supreme Court ruled, and violated journalistic ethical guidelines as well as the laws of slander, causing harm to those who purchased the building and populated it."

Strook noted that it was specifically not the reporters' fault, but rather that of the editors: "The reporters for both papers submitted accurate reports, but the editors are the ones who publicized the false information: In Yediot in the form of a headline, and in Haaretz in the form of an editorial."

Three of the injured parties - the Tal Construction and Investment Company, the Jewish Community of Hevron, and the family of Yisrael and Tzippy Shlissel - sued the newspapers for a million shekels each, via the good offices of Atty. Michael Corinaldi and his son Gilad.

Atty. Gilad Corinaldi today praised the two editors for responding quickly with an offer to apologize and compromise, instead of wrangling over legal issues in court. Haaretz will pay 15,000 shekels and Yediot will pay 13,000, and will publicize clarifications expressing regret over the mistaken reports. The papers will also explain that the Supreme Court did not take a stance on the legality of the purchase.

Haaretz's apology appears today, while that of Yediot will appear tomorrow, on the eve of the holiday of Shavuot, when circulation is larger. This is because the original mistaken report in Yediot appeared on a similar large-circulation day, Friday.

The Hevron Jewish Community issued this statement:
"We have achieved the main thing, and that is to set a precedent according to which the media cannot publish harmful lies against the Yesha population. It has been made clear that the struggle for Beit Shapira is far from over. These apologies are merely the first in a series of apologies that we are about to receive on this affair; we are sure that we will receive similar apologies from the police, the Civil Administration, and the State Prosecution. This was an important victory along our legal path to the restoration of Beit Shapira to its legal owners."
As noted here, the Hebron Jewish community is still trying to regain the proper rights to living in the residence. If so, that's good, because this is a serious matter that needs to be dealt with continuously.

Also available at bRight & Early, Freedom Watch, Outside the Beltway.

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Rare admission, rare decision.
Can the moshiach be getting closer?

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  • I'm Avi Green
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